It was sunny, windy and about 39 degrees on Saturday for the race. I did a little under a mile warm up at a comfortable pace. I was ceded in the third heat for the race (there were about a hundred in each heat). We got the horn and I started weaving my way through people to get some open ground. The race start in a field and wound around for a few minutes before hitting the first of three climbs. The first climb was pretty rocky, a lot of loose gravel, but it wasn't too steep. The hardest part was getting around people. It flattened out for a minute before kicking up again. After that we headed out into single track. I was at the back of a line of about eight people and the opportunities to pass were limited. I got around two as we wound through the woods and back down. Once we hit the bottoms again, it opened up and I was able to move in front of most of the people. We had a water station just before mile three and the second climb. I grabbed a cup and walked a few feet before heading up the hill. I had already decided I would walk the second and third hills to maximize my energy. The second hill was long and wound around. I knew there was a bench at the top and was happy to see it. I was able to start running again. We began our descent and hit a water stop around mile 5. I took a GU, walked the stop and had some fluids before starting again. The next few miles were simply a blur. I know I ran, I know I walked a hill, but I truly don't remember much else except tripping twice and recovering before I face planted. I had found some strange running zone and was just going with it. Around mile seven we began to descend. I could hear the announcer and music and knew we were closing in on the finish. I felt tired but good, and in hind site, may have pushed too hard then. We came out into the clearing I knew we hadn't seen mile marker 8, but I got a bit giddy about being close to the finish. Then we wound back into the woods. It was here that I walked for about 100 paces. I started running again and made the creek crossing and made my way through the woods to cross the road. I really hoped the finish was soon, but no such luck. We wound around the same way we did for the start through the field. I don't know know if it was my mind or my legs, but I walked. I went through about three phases of walking in that last mile. When I finally saw the finish line, I was able to start running again. My splits were as follows:
My overall pace was 9:15. I went back and looked at Pere Marquette in December--the terrain there was a bit hillier, but it was a shorter race. My average pace for it was 9:48. I was pleased with everything except my last mile for this race. I just didn't feel like I "had it".